Monday, June 17, 2024

Beetle, done


Back in January, I mentioned I'd bought a battered Matchbox VW Beetle, mainly because I felt sorry for it. At the time, Paul B pointed me in the direction of repro engine bay covers. I bought one, and it then sat around for months, until I got around to finishing the project. 

Drilling though the rivet, the model came apart, and I decided to try to strip the old paint off, before a respray. Well, half an hour in full-fat Nitromors didn't shift it. That stuff was put on properly!

In the end, I sanded what I could and then sprayed the car with Halfrods paint. Anoyingly, I didn't have any satin black, but the matt isn't particually matt, so that would have to do. I'd reached the stage where I wanted to finish this more than I wanted it perfect. If I change my mind, more paint won't be hard to do. 

The whitemetal engine bay lid isn't a bad fit. Not worse then then the Lesney original. I don't pretend this is a full restoration. If I wanted that, I'd find the proper plastic polish, something else that has hidden itself. A quick go over with Brasso improves the glazing a lot, but (again) it's not perfect. 

What it is, is back in one piece. As Voltaire said, "Perfect can be the enemy of good" and in this case, it doesn't help that the camera is a bit cruel. The model looks OK, and most importantly, is finished. It's easy to end up with half-built projects because they aren't going to be perfect, but sometimes, ir's better to push on and get the job done.Well, that's my excuse. 

Look, an engine!

Sunday, June 16, 2024

7mm Narrow Gauge show 2024


Roundhay Roundhay

In the sunshine, the area around Burton-on-Trent town hall is really rather lovely. I wasn't there to enjoy the architecture though, it was the annual 7mm Narrow Gauge Association event, and I was there for inspiration. 

Favourite layout - Roundhay Roundhay. 4ft by 2ft, continuous run. Easy winner of the "Layout Phil wants to build" prize. I took some photos for BRM later in the year. 

Gants Hill

Gants Hill is a model of Plesy's undergroud factory, and won the best layout prize. A really interesting prototype, and well modelled. 

The Heart of England modular layout managed to look like a proper narrow gauge station, not something always achieved. 

Welton Park has been in front of my camera before - but more vehicles and people have been added. 

And for the life of me, I can't remember the name of this loco. I know I've seen it on 16mm layouts a few times, and have even published something about its build many years ago in Garden Rail. Can anyone remember? 


And the cake. I know this show will offer an excellent selection from previous visits. The chocolate scared me, it was massive, so I went Victoria sponge, which tasted fantastic, but was sufficient for the day. A friend who did risk the chocolate confirmed my fears...

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Then and now: RNLI lifeboats over the years

Lifeboats are brilliant, and this is a film about their development. Seriously, how brave did you have to be to go out in a rowing boat? I wouldn't fancy it much in a modern vessel!

Friday, June 14, 2024

Over on the outdoor track



While all the model boating took place, the team behind the L&WMRS Outdoor track, put on the bit of a show, and of course, I couldn't reist taking part. The back of my car was pretty chocka!

Anway, first up, Ragleth. As ever, a good, soild session, although she seemed more lively than normal. The regulator never went much above half way. Pulling skips wasn't the most reliable activity as they bounce a bit on the points and crossing, bouncing sometimes meaning leaping off the track. 

I did manage a couple of circuits with a train on the second boiler fill, but it wasn't the most relaxing time. 


The Peckett worked perfectly, but by this point, ideas of putting some coaches behind had gone. The wind would have lifted them off the track. Never mind, we enjoyed many circuits light engine in forward and reverse. Oddly, running out of gas backwards, the loco stopped quite close to my position, not like when this happens in forward motion, that's always on the other side of the track!


Star of the day though, had to be this Gauge 1 A4 on a train of Mk1 coaches. A lovely loco that was running well, it's owner kept it going most of the day too. Best of all was the noise as the coaches found the rail joint at the end of the bridge, superb. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Back on the water - Pigeon Pie


Pigeon Pie

2007 was a good year for my boat modelling, not only did I build Little Miss Minty, as seen yesterday, but it also saw me finish the pride of my fleet, Pigeon Pie. 

The model is from a Metcalf Mouldings River Star kit, and you can read about the build in some of my earliest posts.

I've built many boats sinve this, but Pie is still my favourite. I love the design, and don't think I did a bad job building her. There are other kits of this quality in the stash, and I hope that some of them meet this standard. 

Anyway, I hit a problem with getting Pie on the water.  Power is supplied by a modest 6v gell cell battery. One that hasn't seen a charge in many years, and was dead as a dodo. 

I improvised with a couple of the smallest gell cells you can get, but they offered only five minutes on the water, followed by an embarassing wait while the model drifted to the bank so I could retrieve it. 

She still looks good on the water, and I can always buy another battery. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Back on the water - Little Miss Minty


Little Miss Minty

For the open day, I decided that I wasn't going to just sail the "Thursday Boats" that live at home for the rare occasions when I get to go to the weekly club sail. No, I was going to get boats that haven't seen water for some time, and use those instead. 

First up, Little Miss Minty

Built from a Goearge Turner kit, you can follow the build on the blog here. It's scary that this was in 2007. And I'm not sure how much time the model has spent afloat since then. 

Anyway, I found the Ni-Cad battery and gave it a gentle charge. Electricity seemed to stay inside, at least enough to make the model work. I did have to swap out the old-fashioned reciever for a 2.4mGz one, but nothing else changed. 

On the day, Minty sailed well, I'd forgotten how good on the water she is. Sadly, the battery could really have done with a few charging cycles to bring it back to life properly, as we only managed about ten minutes, but they were good minutes, and I am happy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

More junk


At the weekend, we had the model boat club open day, and since I'm short of material, we'll start by looking at the junk I bought from the bring'n'buy stall. I know these sort of posts are popular, because after any big show, someone always lets us see photos of the goodies they have bought. Sadly, it's usually N gauge in boxes. I'm sure the stuff I buy is much more interesting. 

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of: 

  • A small round rasp. This will be a very handy woodworking tool for when I drill holes in slightly the wrong place. 
  • A wide and very, very soft brush. Ideal for dusting models before taking photos. 
  • A gas-filler adapter. Well, you can't have too many of these. 
  • A spring balance for testing loco traction. It's much easier to read than the one I have, and reports in kg and lbs. 
  • A Speed control. 15A, so loads of grunt. No idea if it works. 
  • A doorbell button. Well, someone had to buy it, and I have ideas for a push-button operated model. I now have the button...

Total cost, a fiver. This is why I love rummage boxes.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Cleaning up the boiler

Lady Anne's boilder was letting here down. Matt, and slightly greasy, it contrasts with the high-gloss paintwork on the rest of the loco. 

With the body off, I had a go with some Turtle Was "Safe cut" paint restorer. It's T-cut in a different bottle, basically, a very mild abrasive. 

Starting in a spot that would be hidden by the side tanks, I started polishing, and after a few minutes, the paint started to look better. After half an hour, I was pleased with the result. OK, not perfect, but a much better match for the tanks. 

How long will this last once the loco is fired up? No idea, but at least I know how to clean it up again. 

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Makers Central 2024

Feeling blue

I've heard about "makers" events for years, and always been tempted to go to one, but other things have got in the way. Finally, an event and a spare Sunday appeared at the same time, so I could give it a go. 

I'm not really sure how to describe the show. There was a mix of trade selling tools and equipment, others selling craft products they had produced. Some seemed to just be showing off stuff they had made, and a few stands gave you the change to try your hand at different making techniques. I had a go at pyrography, and made a nice coaster with a picture of an owl on it. 


Helpfully, the design is drawn on for you to burn, I'm not that good an artist, although the face at the bottom is all mine!

The other aspect was a theatre where various YouTubers and other makers were interviewed, or gave talks. Colin Furze is the big star, filling all the seats plus a crowd several deep around the edges. We also had a motorbike that can travel sideways, and a guitar maker who had to learn the value of her craft. She started by charging £6k for a hand-made instrument, and now charges £36k. There waiting list runs to three years!

Overall, even after a couple of weeks cogitation, I don't know what to make of it. I enjoyed myself, but then I always do when looking at people making things. I wish I'd signed up for a couple more hands-on sessions, but they seemed to be making stuff with little actual purpose, unless you want a tile with attractive squiggles on it. Not sure I'll go to another, but I am glad I satisfied my curiosity.

Have a look at some of my photos on Flickr.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Saturday Film Club: The Autotanker: BP's Lost Tanker Of Tomorrow!

An interesting film covering a vehicle that I remember from the Matchbox range, but always assumed was freelance.

Friday, June 07, 2024

Weathering powder, a fire engine and road roller in BRM

Plenty of Phil content in July's issue of BRM. 

My main project is a scene involving an old steam roller. 

Although we talk about the roller, it's really an excuse to cover several scenic techniques, so there are two types of field, and some cobbles. 

I've also built and N gauge fire engine. 

I think this one has come out rather well. A few transfers would be the icing on the cake, but I didn't have any handy when doing the build. It looks OK without them though. 

If you aren't familiar with weathering powers, I've produced a quick guide. 

There's plenty of reassurance that you can reverse the effects, at least on rolling stock. 

My camera has been out.First, in OO, we have West Street Station. 

And in N gauge, Monkchester. 

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Garden Rail July now out!


Garden Rail magazine - July 20204

The Garden Rail team don't just write about large scale railways, once a year, at the National Garden Railway Show, we build one too! Read how we got on with our “Layout in a Day” as well as all the other news from the event.

On the workbench this month:

  • Bonsai trees

  • Lights for coaches

  • A 16mm scale bi-plane

  • Adding a standard gauge feeder line

  • Building a tunnel maintenance train

  • A modular garden line

  • Fettling a Mike's Models locok

  • Building a SAR brake van

Plus lots of news for the garden railway enthusiast.Available from all good newsagents.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Curing the wobbly boiler, for now


The biggest worry with the Lady Anne, was the wobbly boiler. Everything worked fine, but the boiler shouldn't move when you prod the dome. 

With the boiler off, I spent a lot of time trying to work out how the thing was supposed to be attached. After downloading the instructions for the kit version of the loco, and reading this online build, I think the answer is that the two screws going through the Boiler Mounting Foot should screw into some threaded fittings in the boiler. 

Mine didn't. In fact the screws that were fitted, were too short to extend beyond the back of the foot. 

Pondering how I fix this, I wondered about putting some packing behind the foot to effectivly clamp it between the foot and smokebox. Experiments with card seemed to show this would work, and intiailly, my plan was to replace this with shim brass. 

With another nights sleep on the problem, an even simpler solution came to me - slightly longer bolts. Digging through my collection, I found a couple that could be shortened to stick out the back of the foot by around 3mm. Not much, but enough to lock the boiler in place. For the moment anyway. 

Needless to say, I worried that I'd damaged the boiler, so indulged in a little steam-up in the sunshine. 

All was fine, and it gave me a chance to set up the radio control system to put the controls on the right transmitter sticks. 

So, that's my solution. For now. Not ideal, but better than wobbling. 

What I think has happened, is that when the loco was dropped on the floor, bending the chimney slightly, is that the bolts through the Boiler Mounting Foot have sheared off. My bet is that thier remains are still in the back of the boiler. To get those out means dismantling the model, then drilling and tapping the holes to remove the old bolts. That's a lot of work, with no guarantee of success. I could end up having to replace the boiler itself - £552 from Roundhouse right now. 

Long term of course, this is the right course of action, and maybe I'll have another look in the winter. First, I need to replace the pressure gauge, and a few other bits. At least the smokebox has the right number of bolts holding it down now, which will help a little.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

New radio in


The old radio reciever was firmly stuck to a plate inside the tank with (I think) a sticky pad. This sucummed to my screwdriver and the old unit lifted away. Cleverly, the aerial wire runs up the wiring loom and clips to a terminal inside the roof, so this can act as an aerial. 

My new Radiolink unit won't use this, hopefully the 2.4ghz system won't need it. It's a bit smaller than the old reciever, and with a bit of prodding will fit in its space without the sticky pad. I'm wondering about adding some insulating balsa wood on the plate to reduce the amount of heat getting to the electronics. 

Wiring wasn't hard once I remembered that the battery connection doesn't have to go to the bottom set of terminals. Working out which wire goes where is still trial and error, but doesn't take long, and now I have a controller that isn't falling apart, and is the same one used for the other steam locos.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Body off

Any work on the Roundhouse loco needed to start with removing the body. I was sure the radio reciever was in one of the tanks, and it should also allow me to investigate the wobbly boiler issue. 

Using a newly made cradle (See August's Garden Rail) I flipped the loco upside down, and undid any screws I thought might be holding it in place. They all released easily enough, apart from the two at the back of the cab, which were fiddly, but doable. 

It was very greasy under there, so the first job was down at the sink with some turps and loads of kitched roll to remove the slime from all the places it was hidden. All steam locos will get like this, but as I'm going to be poking and prodding around, let's make it as pleasent as possible.


Sunday, June 02, 2024

G3 AGM, Flitwick, 2024


While I've visited the G3 AGM a few times, this year it wasn't on my"must do" list, until my Dad expressed a desire to see Kippo Models to talk about some kits. Well, it's only an hour away, and I could shuffle my weekend to accomodate it. 

The hall doesn't change that much, but new, and eye-catching, was Rundle Quay, a circular test track that has evolved into a simple layout. 2.5m in diameter, it sits on Grange and Hodder baseboards, and will fit in the back of a domestic hatchback car. 

Now, I don't need any more scales to work in, but the tram (not the MEL kit) and Sentinel (G3 Society project) could tempt me!

The owners plan is to focus on very early trains, as these are better suited to larger scales in smaller spaces than more modern stock. An excellent idea, and hopefully one he'll expand on in a future issue of Garden Rail. 

Other than that, there was a little tempting trade, although I am getting better at resisting, another layout, and an empty test track out the back. Odd that last one, it's usually quite popular, and meant that my Dad missed out on some G3 operating action. 

Still, tea and lemon drizzle cake made up for it!

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Overcoming Model Railroading Burnout

Quite an appropriate video this week - although not that helpful to me, it's an important point that for most, this is a hobby, and if you don't feel like doing it for a while (or forever) then simply, don't

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Time for a break


Time for a break
I've not been feeling great recently. Any modelling mojo has left the building and run down the street,  there's nothing for me to write up on the blog. 

So, I'm going to take a few days off. I've started to get a little mojo back, so maybe there will be something interesting to say. I do have a bit of material from a couple of shows to work through eventually for a start. 

Anyway, I bet most of you are off work for half-term weekend. Loads of people I know are, so you're not missing the posts so much. 

Incidentally, have I managed to sort out the anoying adverts? I can't see them, so I hope those pesky Google experiments have gone for you too.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Saturday Film Club: A trip along the Weymouth tramway

Weymouth tramway is one of those lines every enthusiast would love to have travelled on, but for most, it's video only. Enjoy this short film, the quality isn't great, but still worth a look.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Roundhouse loco - First steaming

With the sun out, it's time to see if the latest addition to my fleet works. After loading it up with fuel, oil and water, I placed it on a couple of bricks to give it a go.

As promised, it steams really freely. The safety valve lifted within five minutes (roughly) and on the track, it runs perfectly.I am a happy boy!

OK, there is work to do:
  • The transmitter is falling apart, but it was always going to be replaced by a 2.4ghz unit. 
  • The pressure gauge doesn't work. I'll have a poke, but will probably just replace it. We won't pass a boiler test unless I can get this sorted!
  • A couple of the grub screws in the wheels are out, and won't go back. 
  • A new O-ring is required for the lubricator. 
  • New safety valve covere required! (I have the dome cover). 
  • The boiler wobbles. Hopefully this is just a loose bolt. 
  • The boiler needs a good degrease and clean on the outside. 
  • The cylinder covers look tatty. Not sure if I should repaint or just replace. 

Time to head to the Roundhouse website and place an order...

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Random photos from Crewe

I enjoyed a day out with a West Midlands Dayranger ticket on Monday. First proper stop (Change at Birmingham doesn't count) was Crewe. Here are a few random shots. 

Class 153 at Crewe

70 806 at Crewe

37 116 hauls 66 846 at Crewe

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

1/32nd Street Scene

Street scene

Not really a "Warehouse Wednesday", but a stunning street scene spotted at the G3 Society AGM last weekend. The model is actually 1/32nd (Gauge 1), but we won't hold that againast it. 

 I've uploaded these images full size, so you can click on them and see all the detail. It's well worth it!

Street scene

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Glazed greenhouse


Job done. The ScaleModelScenery greenhouse is built, and glazed, and very nice it looks too. 

Glazing made use of some old Wills kit packaging. Fiddly, the job took over an hour, but well worth it. 

All I need to do now it put some plants in there, on the staging, but for the moment, we'll assume it's shut down for the winter. 

This is a really nice kit, and I'm very pleased with the results now I've tweaked it a little with Slater's brickwork around the base. At some point I'll have to find a project to incorporate the model in to.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Stamford 2024

Cato Inferno

Regular readers will know of my enthusiasm for loco model railway shows. Get a good one, and the layouts on display will be punching well above the weight of the event, and so it proved at Stamford. 

I'd gone along to photograph Harbourne St Mary for a future issue of BRM. While there, the Market Deeping club, who run the show, had asked me and my boss to judge the best layout competition. 

Comparing one layout against another, when they are all so different is really difficult. We got the list down to six, and over tea, decided to award the prize to Daisy Lane, a 4mm scale MPD with some really nice detail in the buildings (no roofs, so you can see this) and a set of weathered stock. Part of my reasoning was that I've seen MPDs done so often with weathered buildings, and stock straight from the box, it's nice to see things done properly. It's also a modest size, the sort of layout people can realisticaly aspire to building. 

And yes, I have got a photo shoot booked in later this year. It definitely needs to be on the page. 

Essex Brick

So many other layouts stick in my mind though, such as the 3D printed Essex Brick. Not realistic, but with a real Steampunk vibe going on, and it all works automatically.

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter achieves something that again, I've seen tried, but rarely as successfully - a monochrome layout. Sat in the hall, it really stands out with it's grey colouration. Sadly, the baseboard is so packed, it wouldn't work on the page, but if you get the chance to see it for realy, don't miss out. 

Trade was good, but not brisk thanks to a well-publicised stunning day outside. The sort of weather that makes most people head for a pub garden rather than an exhibition hall, even one with excellent cake. I felt for the show manager. As he said, you can't control the weather. 

Anyway, there are more photos on Flickr. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Llangollen 2024

Main hall

The weather was kind. Too kind for me to consider wearing the official Garden Rail tweed jacket to a garden railway show!

The venue was, as usual, nice and spacious, and light inside. Not problem with photography here. Which doesn't explain why I mainly took pictures of the less serious models of course, that's just the way my mind works. I blame buying a steam loco early on, it jumbles my brain. 

Anyway, what I did get the chance to do was chat to a lot of the trade, and some of the visitors. The general concensus was thet the NGRS show had been successful, with plenty of money spent. Happy trade means no problems rebooking them for next year, so a happy exhibition manager. 

The layouts were nice, and we had the chance to see some vintage models running, including a Sgt Murphy.

Sgt Murphy

It's interesting to see the rise in interest in these older models. I'll admit, they fascinate me, and I suspect there is a meths powered loco in my future...

Anyway, you can look at the full set of photos over on Flickr.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Build a Dune buggy

I've always wanted to build a kit car. Probably a dune buggy. 

Of course, it's very unlikely I ever will. And even if I did, the mean streets of Leamington Spa aren't the idea home for it. And I'm not nearly cool enough to drive one. 

But it doesn't do any harm to watch the film and dream...

Friday, May 17, 2024

The cheap way into Roundhouse ownership


This is my new toy. A Roundhouse Lady Anne. Bought at Llangollen garden railway show last Saturday. 

I'd normally say I hadn't planned to buy this, but in truth, there was an inkling. Right at the end of Ally Pally show, I spotted that Footplate had a green one on the stand, for very modest money. I asked what was wrong with it, and the answer came that it was a bit scruffy, but otherwise OK. 

Now, if I'd seen that loco at the start of the show, there would have been a lot of pondering. A Roundhouse loco was a hole in my collection. I've toured the factory and seen the quality of the work. But there was no way I could justify the outlay to myself. Even the kits (which I'd stilll love to build) end up north of a grand by the time you buy all the bits. Excellent value for money, but still a big chunk of cash. 

Anyway, having seen Footplate at a couple of shows since, and the stand being devoid of loco, I assumed I'd missed my chance. Not to worry I thought. 

But at the garden railway show, the green loco was back. And joined by a black one. Each for £600. I asked, and was assured the loco had steamed. It felt OK when I turned the wheels, and was pleasently oily in the right places. I took a deep breath and handed over my credit card. This may be a bargain, but it's still not something I'd planned or saved for. 

Back home, a chance posting on Facebook about the Paul Perryman estate sale allowed me to start digging into the models history. From the serial number, Roundhouse told me it was built in 1999 by Harry. I have now comunicated with the first owner, who sold it to Paul. I also know it has been run with 40-50 wagons on the back relatively recently. 

Now this might be a bargain, but there is work to do. The boiler moves slightly. It's greasy and dull. The loco was once red, but repainted black after falling off a table and becoming scratched. This also explains the very slight lean of the chimney - not something I spotted until it was pointed out. 

The first job is to steam the model. From that I'll get an idea of the work required. Being Roundhouse, all the bits are available, and the model can be taken apart using hand tools if required. 

Assuming it's as good as suggested, then after 25 years, this thing was excellent value for money. It's not like it's never been used after all. 

Anyway, the adventure starts here. I'm looking forward to this one. Quite chuffed with my new purchase.